Eastern Europe has some of the most beautiful architecture in the world and it is also relatively cheap with incredible cuisine. However, there are differences between Western and Eastern Europeans and the perceptions differ as well. I went to the Czech Republic, with my grandmother who spent almost her entire life in St. Petersburg, Russia and my sister who grew up in North America. At first, the difference between the two cultures could hardly be noticed. The beer is incredible, transportation runs on time and churches (while in different styles) are well kept. After a few days, the differences began to appear, especially when leaving Prague.
Our first stop was Marianske Lazne; which is known for being a spa town. The first shock came when there were no taxis at the train station and due to construction, it was filled with dirt. Deciding to walk with luggage to our hotel, it took a good 30 minutes of walking on roads which were covered by snow and ice. In North America, this would not be the norm. When we asked our grandma, how come they do not put salt on the pavements; her reply was it ruins shoes.
Marianske Lazne, Czech
The second shock came when we went to get massages which were super cheap. We selected the chocolate treatment which to us seemed like the perfect thing to do in the middle of a cold day. Well, the chocolate massage turned out to be a mask which barely smelled like chocolate, let alone had any chocolate content. After the massage, we had to take multiple lengthy showers to get the medical smell off our skins and to stop itching as it caused an allergic reaction. Meanwhile, my grandmother was loving the fact that prior to the massage, they did a physical examination and the nurse prescribed treatments at the hotel spa. Instead of luxurious treatment that we expected, the room looked like it was an old doctor’s office, and although clean looked very aged.
In the morning buffet, they asked us what our number was. Outraged as we had a train to catch, they allowed us to sit at a table for about 20 minutes maximum and gave us a lecture about how we had to reserve our spot prior to breakfast. When we said no one mentioned it during booking or check-in, they explained everyone knows this and looked at us like we were from another planet. I guess we were!